Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Some Thoughts (Spoiler Free)

My family and I had been invited to a private showing of Star Wars on December 27th. A friend's father who owns a local business rented our town theatre for a showing. We decided to catch it early. Actually, I became far too excited to wait, and feeling like a ten-year-old kid again, talked my wife into seeing it before the 27th.

The movie does a great job of bridging the old and the new. We get to see our old heroes and meet some new ones. I left the theatre feeling like the series is in capable hands, both in terms of new characters and the direction the story is taking. The pacing felt just right, giving us plenty of thrills as well as a little time to breathe between action sequences without the pace bogging down. There is some humor in just the right doses, and zero jokes involving farting aliens.

Most importantly, Abrams' story world felt like Star Wars. The sets, the props, all of it.  Jakku felt especially gritty and real. It was also nice to see the actors in outdoor locations, rather than have everything green screened to death. Overall, I would put The Force Awakens in the top three of the series (Behind Empire and A New Hope). I'm looking forward to seeing it again. Just wish we didn't have to wait until 2017 until the next installment.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Portable Writing

I've taken to carrying a plastic, folding file purchased at CVS with me to work. I keep a different spot in the folder for each writing project. In the file are notebooks, story notes, pens, and a map of the United States with territories marked off. The map is for my upcoming zombie epic, Kingdom of the Dead.

Right now I'm finishing up The Gray Men trilogy. Work in earnest will begin on Kingdom of the Dead after the holidays.

Typing in pages from a Steno notebook for Gray Men #3. After this, I'll probably hit the basement and workout for a bit. Maybe play some guitar before the rest of the family starts to stir.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Horror Novella Full of Monsters, Guns & Gore - The Island Now Available

My latest novella, The Island, is available for Kindle.

It's the horror fan's ultimate dream. A tour of an island where legendary monsters are real. Escorted by armed guards, lifelong friends Rick and Nate travel to the island as a birthday surprise for Rick. They soon find out that the island's inhabitants are hungry, and the tour turns into a fight for survival. 

A an action-packed horror novella loaded with monsters and gore from the author of The Dead Land Trilogy.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Monster Novella Cover

Here's a peek at the cover for my upcoming novella, The Island. It's got guns, action, monsters, and gore. I uploaded the file for Kindle this morning. Should be available within the next day.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Novella Finished

Finally finished up a horror novella I was working on. It's edited and ready to upload. I have to design a cover and come up with a proper title. I was thinking "Island," but that's kind of fucking boring. Have to think about that one.

The novella is a fast-paced little tale with plenty of familiar monsters, action, and gore. Should have it up for sale in the next few days.

Guitar-wise, still working on "Over the Hills and Far Away." Also working on the riff for The White Stripes' "Icky Thump." Fun stuff.

Wife is watching "A Prince for Christmas." It's a cheeseball Hallmark movie that was shot in my town (East Aurora, NY). Lame movie, but kind of cool to see the locales on film.

Monday, November 30, 2015

On Having Fun

I'm a regular reader of Dean Wesley Smith's blog. He's always reminding writers to have fun. That's something we all forget. Making up stories is enjoyable. Trying to remind myself of that on a regular basis. 

I did some Black Friday shopping (online) last week. I haven't done Christmas shopping in a mall or big box retail store in 15 years, mainly because I lose patience quickly in stores. Got in 1,000 words the day after Thanksgiving. 

The Third Gray Men book is coming along. Still sitting on the second book because I need to tie some things together in books 2 and 3. I'll probably release them pretty close to one another. Also have a novella I've been holding on to for no good reason. Maybe I'll get that uploaded in the next week. 

I'm shooting for 750-1000 words per day, and right now I'm also typing in some rough copy for what will be Gray Men #3.

Played some guitar over the weekend. Learned some parts to Zep's "Over the Hills and Far Away" that have been eluding me (or I've been avoiding learning). Also worked on "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Favorite Horror Movies/Novels

A few years back, I posted some of my favorite horror movies.  With Halloween a week away, I thought I’d post some of my favorite horror novels/movies in a combined list.

On a side note, this is the first year we won’t be trying to find a Halloween costume. My oldest son (18) stopped trick-or-treating two years ago. My thirteen-year-old announced that he was too old this year to go. Hence, no last minute rushing around to find a costume. I won’t miss those Halloween nights standing in freezing drizzle or snow while the kids collected their loot, but it does mark the passage of time. And I won’t lie and say it’s not a little bittersweet.

Here’s the list in no particular order:

  •    Halloween (original John Carpenter version)
  •    Aliens (not technically horror, but I’m lumping it in here)
  •     Alien
  •    The Descent
  •    The Shining by some King guy
  •     Sinister
  •     IT (novel)
  •    Friday the 13th, Part Two
  •    Pumpkinhead
  •   Off Season by Jack Ketchum
  •   The Killing Kind by Bryan Smith
  •    Feast (movie)
  •    Paranormal Activity (the first one)
  •    Insidious
  •   Night of the Living Dead
  •    Dawn of the Dead
  •   The Thing
  •   Salem’s Lot (the novel)
  •   The Road by Cormac McCarthy (novel and movie)
  •   Silver Bullet
  •   Dead Snow
  •   Endless Night by Richard Laymon
  •  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  •  The Legend of Boggy Creek
  •  From Dusk Till Dawn

Monday, October 12, 2015

Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival

I'll be judging feature length screenplays for the upcoming Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.  The festival will be running 104 films this year in all categories: action, horror, cult, and thriller, among others. I'm looking forward to reading the screenplays.

The festival runs November 6th-November 12th at the Eastern Hills Mall Cinema.

WNY horror author and filmmaker Gregory Lamberson will have films screening. Check them out if you please.

Here's a link to the festival's website:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Finding Inspiration in a Hospital Basement

My son has been going to various appointments at Children's Hospital of Buffalo for all of his 18 years. The hospital is short on space, so a few of the clinics are in the basement, among them, the lab that makes his AFOs (leg braces).

The basement is a series of winding corridors. Pipes and wires clutter every inch of the ceiling. The hospital staff stack bags of garbage up along the walls. You can hear the banging and clanging from the hospital laundry. I imagine there's more than a few critters skulking around the basement.

We happened to take a wrong turn after his appointment one time and got turned around. We wandered for a bit before someone pointed us in the right direction. Both he and I remarked that the basement would make a wonderful setting for a horror story.

I'm using what I saw as the basis for a sequence in The Gray Men, Book Two. One of my characters has been locked in a rather unpleasant basement room (the hospital in my story is abandoned) and she's not alone. I think it would be a horrible fate to be locked in a winding, twisty basement, especially after dark when few people are around. Pretty much anything the writer sees can be fodder for a story. With horror writers, it's always about imagining the worst happening and then dumping that on your characters.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Day's Work

Wrote just over 1,000 words yesterday on the Gray Men Trilogy. I'm into the third book. Also editing the second book at the same time. I'm not sure when the second book will be released. Hoping sometime in the fall.

I put my undead serial killer novel Where The Dead Go in KDP/Select/Kindle Unlimited. It's available to borrow with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription.

The Fall Soccer league started and my thirteen-year-old scored two goals in a 4-3 victory by the Italy Gallons. Not sure why they're called the Gallons, but the kids had a great time and seeing the coach give my son an enthusiastic high five after his second goal was cool.

Bad things are happening to my characters in the Gray Men. This should be your mantra as a writer: Make them suffer.

Here's a snippet:

Wincing, she grabbed the rat. It squealed like it had been set on fire. She twisted in opposite directions. Something cracked inside the rat and it went limp. She tossed it aside and got to her feet.

She was soaked. Chills racked her body. She bent over and picked up the pipe, readied herself for the next wave.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Writing

We're celebrating my wife's birthday today with my in-laws. I took her out for dinner to Joe's Crab Shack and was pleasantly surprised. I'd go again. The Tabasco-butter dipping sauce was godlike. I even wore the crab/lobster bib with the words "Shrimpin' ain't easy" scrawled on it by the waitress. They need to put that on a t-shirt.

I got news that I was shortlisted for a Military SF anthology that I submitted a story to earlier this year. I'm hoping to have my story included.

Wrote some on the third Gray Men book. I'm also editing chapters in the second book. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Novella Done, Trilogy Continues

The novella I'm working on is done. Just have to make a quick editing pass. It's a fun, B-movie story with tons of monsters. The Gray Men trilogy continues. I did a little writing up in the Thousand Islands, but mostly we chilled out at the beach and around the campfire.

The Gray Men will wind up being a trilogy. I had originally envisioned a four or five book series, but the story is telling me to wrap things up. 

Next up will be a zombie epic. I hadn't considered writing another zombie book, but a neat idea struck me. I'm going to see where it goes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Daily Writing

Putting the finishing touches on a novella that crams a bunch of different monsters in. Its been a blast to write. Probably won't have it uploaded for a couple more weeks, but it should be up before the end of August.

I've been toying with the idea of putting some older titles in Kindle Unlimited. These are books that aren't selling much, but I'm thinking Kindle Unlimited might give them some exposure. One writer I'm friends with on Facebook is making some nice money every week from his Kindle Unlimited titles.

Tomorrow I'll run some more errands and will continue getting ready for vacation.

Reading The Border by Robert McCammon and enjoying the hell out of it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Today's Writing

I wrote 1,100 words on two different projects. One is a horror novella that takes place on an island loaded with monsters. The second is the third Gray Men book.

I worked on some new guitar licks, mostly Zakk-Wylde and Slash-type stuff. Repeating licks.

We had my oldest son's graduation party this weekend. Had a great time and the weather cooperated.

Off to the hot tub now. Leaving the youngest son to save Gotham on the PS4.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ten Years Gone - Some Thoughts on My Dad

My dad and my uncle owned a tank and pump business together. It went out of business in the mid-eighties. Along with the tank and pump business, they owned a carwash. Both businesses were on the West Side of Buffalo. My father was at the tank and pump shop one day when his employee at the car wash called him. Apparently a disgruntled customer was claiming the car was somehow at fault for getting water in his gas tank. The angry customer was threatening to take the entire cash register drawer.
Dad said he would be right over. He owned a .38 revolver. Their business was in a rough part of town. One time someone actually broke into their shop and poisoned their guard dogs, two ill-tempered German Shepherds named Boots and Heidi. That’s another story for another time.
Dad went over to the carwash and walked in. As he told it, he flashed the .38 to the angry guy and said, “You still want to take the cash register drawer?”
The guy beat it out of there pretty fast.
Another time my parents were picking up our dog from the groomer on West Utica Street.  As they were getting into the car, a guy walking down the street started harassing my mother for money. Dad said, “You can walk away, or I can put a bullet in your ass.”
When I was around twelve-years-old, a neighbor refused to give back my basketball that had bounced into his yard, Dad took me to his house. It only took a scowl and a few words from my father to get the ball back.
Dad took zero shit off of anyone. He was an old school tough guy. The tough guy was also the guy that spent every Christmas staying up all night to assemble my toys. The same guy that got teary-eyed the first time he saw his newborn grandson. The same guy that I spent countless Sundays with watching and talking football.  The guy that had a soft heart but would go full Grizzly Bear if his family was threatened.
He liked to have fun with store clerks. I remember him setting down a quart of motor oil on the counter at Wilson Farms and saying: “My wife wants oil for a salad, is this the right kind?” He said it with such a straight face that the clerk was left dumbfounded. He chuckled a moment later and let the clerk off the hook.
That was Dad: tough guy, family man, prankster. 

He’s been gone ten years. Thinking about him on Father’s Day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Creating a Writer's Board

I’m trying something new in order to organize the jumbled mess that is my brain. I created a writing board with a corkboard in my office. What’s on the writing board?

Index cards with brief descriptions of my next three scenes. I’ve found this helps keep the story going and I’m never at a loss for what comes next.

Story titles/ideas for my next 5-6 novellas and novels.

Reminders to stay active on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  I tend to drift from social media from time-to-time. Also some cool websites for writers.

A list of potential blog topics.

Some favorite writing quotes. Currently I’ve got Chuck Wendig’s “Inkslinger’s Invocation” up there now.

The writing board is basically there to keep me somewhat organized and to keep ideas visible. What else could go on a writing board?

A detailed outline, whether it's on paper or individual index cards

Lists of details regarding the characters in your current novel

Writing prompts

Pictures of locations/characters in your story

Bits of research that you need to access frequently

Maps of story locales

Fast food menus

The Mayan Calendar

Pretty much anything you like.

Saw A Quiet Place II This Weekend

Jenn and I went for lunch yesterday, then saw A Quiet Place II at the Aurora Theater. The Aurora is a great little theater. One screen, and...